Diet Nutrition – What Are the Essential Nutrients in Your Diet?

Dieting is the practice of restricting one’s eating to achieve health or weight management goals. Diets may vary among individuals depending on individual differences.

A nutritious diet should include plenty of fresh, plant-based foods and limit processed food consumption. Additionally, animal products like red meat, dairy products and eggs should be limited as well.


Carbohydrates are essential sources of energy for the body, found in many foods like fruits, vegetables, starches and grains.

Carbs are essential for weight management, heart health and a healthy digestive system. According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 45-65% of calories should come from carbohydrates.

Make nutrient-rich carbohydrates your goal, such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, cornmeal or oatmeal.

Sugars (natural or added) are another major source of carbohydrates. These include fruit sugars (fructose), table sugars (sucrose) and milk sugars (lactose).

Experts generally suggest that no more than 10% of your daily calories should come from added sugars, which are commonly found in snacks, candy and soda.


Proteins are complex molecules that provide energy to your body and keep muscles, bones and tissues strong. Additionally, proteins play a major role in maintaining a healthy immune system as well as producing enzymes, hormones and B vitamins.

Your body requires 7 grams of protein per 20 pounds of body weight each day. To get enough, incorporate various food sources into your meals and snacks.

Meat, poultry, fish and dairy products are high sources of protein. Furthermore, they contain vitamins and minerals which may help lower your risk for heart disease and cancer.

Over the last several decades, there has been an increased interest in finding plant-based proteins with superior nutritional quality and functional properties for industrial applications (emulsification, solubility, gelation, foaming, viscosity, oil-holding capacity or water-holding capacity). Studies have suggested dietary intake of such a high-protein food from plant origin may improve cardiovascular health as well as reduce type 2 diabetes and obesity risks.


Fat is an integral component of a nutritious diet. It supplies your body with essential vitamins A, D and E which cannot be absorbed without fat. Fat plays an integral role in keeping you at optimal health.

Saturated fats can be found in foods like red meat, butter, cheese and ice cream. They’re also present in certain plant-based oils like palm oil.

However, saturated fat does not increase your risk of heart disease or diabetes when consumed in moderation. In fact, replacing saturated fats with unsaturated ones can lower cholesterol and decrease the likelihood of developing these conditions.

Unsaturated fatty acids can be found in vegetable oils like olive, canola, sunflower and soy oil as well as nuts, seeds, avocados and some fish. When consumed in moderation these fatty acids help lower cholesterol and keep the heart healthy.


Minerals are inorganic compounds that have an array of functions in human cells. They aid growth, development, energy production, cellular movement and homeostasis (or balance) within cells.

A balanced diet can provide all the minerals we require. However, for those with dietary deficiencies or health issues, supplements may be prescribed.

Calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium and potassium are essential minerals that our body requires in large amounts for proper function. They build structures like bones and teeth; help regulate blood volume and pressure; as well as control body fluids.

Proteins make up proteins and are necessary for nerve impulse transmission and muscle contraction. They release energy from food while aiding oxygen transport in our bloodstream.

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